Arsenal vs Bayern Munich: Five Key Battles

After FA Cup disappointment at the weekend, Arsenal face Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the last tournament they can win this season. Can they defeat last year's Champions League runners up?

Here is a run-down of the key battles...

Lukas Podolski vs Philip Lahm

No-one has as much to prove as Lukas Podolski as he takes on him former club, having largely disappointed at Bayern in his three year spell there. Unfortunately he is up against perhaps the best full back in the world in Philip Lahm, and will have to ensure he tracks Lahm on his forays forward as much as trying to impress in attack himself. Podolski has enjoyed a decent if unspectacular first season in London, but he is a key man in the side, and will have to be at his best if Arsenal are to win such a tricky tie.

Per Mertesacker vs Mario Mandzukic

The Croatian number nine has enjoyed a superb debut season at Bayern, netting 15 league goals already for the runaway Bundesliga leaders with six goals in his last four appearances. His aerial prowess is well known, and Mertesacker will have to marshal Mandzukic carefully to prevent him from running riot in Arsenal's back line. With Monreal ineligible, there will inevitably be a makeshift feel to the home team's back four, and Mertesacker will be desperately needed to steady the ship, and stay vigilant against Mandzukic in particular.

Theo Walcott vs David Alaba

Walcott has been superb for Arsenal this season, growing into his role as the side's main goal threat either through the middle or from the wing. Assuming he starts on the right of a three man attack on Tuesday, he will have to pull a strong defensive shift in addition to his attacking play due to the prowess of David Alaba going forward. With Lahm joining the attack on the right, and Alaba with Ribery on the left, Arsenal will have a job ensuring they are not overrun in their own half, and Walcott will have to be prepared to do plenty of tracking back. At the same time, on the counter Walcott is one of the most effective players around at the moment, and if Alaba does regularly go forward, there could be plenty of space for the England forward to exploit.

Bacary Sagna vs Franck Ribery

Sagna will know plenty about his international team mate, and will have a huge role for Arsenal in keeping perhaps Bayern's most potent attacking threat quiet. Sagna has not enjoyed his best season at the Emirates, but on his day he is a superb full back, and if he gets on top of Ribery Arsenal's chances of success in the tie will increase exponentially.

Mikel Arteta vs Toni Kroos

Kroos' clever attacking play has been integral to Bayern’s fantastic season so far, and if he is regularly given time on the ball in Arsenal's half there's little doubt he will do damage. Arteta performances in the withdrawn position he has played this season have been quietly excellent, but Tuesday's match might call for a more traditional type of enforcer to get amongst the Bayern attackers, and Arteta will have to play this role whilst keeping Arsenal's possession ticking over.

image: © az1172

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